Part 3 | Inspired Designs

  • The Quest for Creativity

writing this three part series on my journey to photography… I really feel like I’ve experienced a BLAST from the PAST! Going through old images and projects has really made me realize just how much my “VISION” has changed over the last 5 years. Five years ago I was a freshman in college, thinking I was going to be an art teacher… and painting dishes on the side. Then my journey shifted to more of a “graphic design” phase…. THEN… I bought my first DSLR. I used my “Katelyn’s Krafts” funds to purchase a Canon Rebel Xti. WOAH! I. was. bigtime. I had so much fun with that camera and

I never even knew how to really USE it! I shot on automatic for over a year and thought my images were FANTASTIC! I couldn’t have been more wrong! Anyway, the start of my sophomore year began and I was still interning at the Ferguson Center. I had this starter DSLR and I was perfectly content just shooting leaves and old door knobs and anything that was old and had character. I specifically remember visiting friends at Clemson with my new gadget and Chris Isham asking me “So, do you think you’ll ever do like, portrait photography and shoot people?!”.  I replied with “Oh no, I don’t shoot people… I just like inanimate stuff”…. Welp, obviously that changed DRASTICALLY…. because I shot his WEDDING!  Somewhere between the beginning and end of my sophomore year in college, my opinion about photography started to evolve and I really started to ponder what I was going to do with my life.  Here is what I knew at the time:



1. I want to be creative

2. I want to be my own boss and not work at a desk job my whole life

3. I like Graphic Design…I like Interior Decorating…and I think I like PHOTOGRAPHY.



I started looking into what it meant to shoot “manually” and I began teaching myself the technical side of photography.  I took pictures at parties, on beach trips, at the house, at the river.. etc etc.  People just knew I was going to come with my camera in tow. I took it everywhere and I made a decision to ONLY shoot on manual. I did this because I knew I needed to learn and this would FORCE me to practice.  After reluctantly agreeing to second shoot my first wedding with Jessie Smith, I realized that taking portraits of PEOPLE wasn’t that bad after all! Now, I didn’t walk away from that first wedding thinking “OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS!!”…it was 103 degrees and a thunderstorm knocked out the power! But I did leave feeling a little inspired. I knew I wanted to start something that allowed me to do something I was passionate about. So after shooting two weddings with Jessie, I launched a website and INSPIRED DESIGNS was formed!!!


Now let me explain… “Inspired Designs By: Katelyn James” was not solely wedding photography…. it was ANY type of photography. If someone would have asked me to come and photograph their dog’s birthday party…. I would have done it! And not only was this a photography business…. I also offered interior decorating AND custom graphic design….. oh and let’s not forget my “FULL COLLECTION” package where I offered to literally plan the ENTIRE wedding AND shoot it! Need a decorator? Stylist? Photographer? I was your girl! WHEW!!! As exciting as this sounds…. it didn’t take long for me to realize that trying to do EVERYTHING doesn’t work.  I’m OBSESSED with decorating… if you have seen my house, you know this is true!! However, I quickly realized that I liked decorating for ME and only me…. I didn’t like having to please other people and worry about spending their money. After a few interior decorating jobs I decided to take that off the site. Bye Bye interior decorating…


Next, I had to deal with the graphic design aspect of the business. I was still working at the Ferg and I enjoyed designing so much… so I NEEDED to have it incorporated into “Inspired Designs” right?!  Wrong. Once again, I realized that designing logos and business cards and brochures wasn’t where I was headed. Someone very wise once said “Do one thing…. and do it WELL”.  I was trying to do MULTIPLE things WELL and I wasn’t growing or expanding in any of those three areas. It wasn’t long until I cut out graphic design and “Inspired Designs” was STRICTLY a photography business. I kept the name “Inspired Designs” for over a year….people  knew that name and it was growing so why change it? It’s a lot of work to rebrand!!  Well, Miss Jstar asked me during our engagement session if I was ever going to switch to “Katelyn James Photography” and said it had a nice ring to it …. so of course I started to consider it.   After relaunching a new site, new logo, new business cards, new blog, etc…. switching to “Katelyn James Photography” was one of the BEST business decisions I could have ever made! If I’m selling “ME” and my personality… people need to know who I am! Thanks Jas.


You may think “Ok, are you DONE now with all of your “phases” of this business?”.  No. I have one more change that took place in my business. This past year I did a mini re-brand with a new logo… and I announced that I am no longer a portrait photographer. I’m saying “no” to newborn sessions, family portrait sessions, reunions, corporate events…. I’m JUST a wedding photographer. That’s it. I just shoot weddings and I love what I do. Weddings are what I’m PASSIONATE about and so this past year I decided to simplify my business even more and just follow my heart.  Does this mean I will make less money in 2012… yea, maybe… but I don’t care.  I’m doing ONLY what I really love to do and after 3 and a half years of “phases”… I think I’ve FINALLY come to a place where I want to STAY for a while!


I’m so thankful for the direction and guidance that I’ve received over the past 3+ years of being in business. My parents, my boyfriend turned fiance’ turned husband, my roommates, my siblings, my mentors in the industry and my God get so much credit for where I am today.  It took a while for me to finally figure out what this business was supposed to look like and it’s amazing to look back at where it started from. Everyone starts somewhere!! If you’re in a transition phase in your own quest for creativity…. don’t give up! You never know when you’re going to find something that you really truly LOVE!!! Maybe you’re like me and have so many different phases of life that have brought you to where you are today… if so, BLOG about it!!! Share it! You’ll love looking back on these memeories years and years from now!


Have a fabulous Wednesday, enjoy some of my work from the “Inspired Designs” era and I’m off to work on a CRAZY project…. like crazy. I don’t even know how this happened!:)

This was our little college house… it was torn down this past fall… SO SAD CNU!! We loved the “Middle House”!

Some Custom Graphic Design from the “Inspired Designs” days!

And a few shots from my first few weddings… OH.MY. Thank goodness we all improve with time!! Did I really think it was cool to shoot crooked pictures?! I guess I was trying to be “Artsy” in some of those shots… wowsers. Very humbling.

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